It's happened to all of us: we have a deadline to meet on a paper and we wait until the 11th hour. Who knows why we do it. Perhaps we got busy or something unexpected cropped up. Or perhaps we simply procrastinated. Whatever the reason, the clock is inexorably winding down. There's no way to stop it. So, we can either rise to the challenge, or go sniveling to the teacher, begging for an extension.
The problem with the sniveling route is that it seldom works. When an instructor assigns a paper, they rarely grant an extension unless there's an emergency, such as a serious illness or a death in the family. Barring that, you will be expected to deliver your paper on time. The penalties for an overdue book report generally starts at a letter grade each day. So even if your write the perfect paper and hand it in only one day late, the best you can get is a B. It is for this reason that's often a good idea to pull an all-nighter and get your book report in under the wire.
Is it possible?
The good news is that you live in the Information Age. You don't have to run to the library and leaf through massive tomes to find the quotes or statistics you need, as you parent undoubtedly did. You can simply look online. This makes writing a paper
, any paper far easier and more expeditious than it was in the past. It also means that you can pull an all-night, since the internet never closes, unlike libraries.
With that said, you will have to work smart if you hope to complete a book report from scratch in a single day. That means following a game plan and not wasting a single second. Fortunately, there is a fairly standard five-part process any writer can use to compose a great book report. Let us take a moment to review the five steps.
Step One: The Introduction
As with any review, you must begin by introducing the topic you will be discussing. You must mention who wrote the book, when it was published, and what the general subject or topic is. If the book won any major awards, such as the Noble or Pulitzer Prize, you might also mention that. But try not to say too much. The introduction of a standard book report need only be a single paragraph a few sentences long.
Step Two: The Outline
Next, you will want to outline the content of the book giving a very general review of its organization. Is it written in chronological order, or does it jump around from section to section? An author like William Faulkner, for example, is famous for organizing his books into different sections based on chronology. You might also discuss the topics or subject matter of the major sections.
Step Three: Select a Theme
Often the most arduous part of any book report is deciding what the major themes or arguments of the work may be. In most classic novels there are several of them. A book like The Brother Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, for example, focuses on religion, family, love, philosophy and other weighty themes. But for your exigent book report, you need only select one theme that runs through the book or novel. Use quotes and cite specific examples to support your argument regarding said theme. What you are ultimately trying to demonstrate is that the author had a specific message to convey to his readers and that he used certain characters and/or narrators to get his point across.
Step Four: Evaluation
The evaluation stage requires that you comment on the content of the book in a personal way. Instead of using quotes or other textual evidence, you can simply proffer your own opinion-your reaction to the plot, themes, and characters in the book you read. Depending on your instructor, this section may be written in either the first or third person subjective.
Step Five: The Conclusion
The last section of the standard book report is the conclusion, where you must sum up your major points and reiterate your strongest arguments. It should be short and sweet. Many students make the mistake of expatiating endlessly in this last section. But trust us-it's better to be succinct.
How to save time
Now that you know the steps you must take, you can put the pieces in order. Hopefully, you will have read the book recently and it will be fresh in your mind. You should also have at least a few pages of quotes, from which you can select a theme. Always pick a theme based on how much evidence you have to support your argument. If you have more quotes that suggest the author was trying to hammer home a particular point, go with that theme when the hour is getting late.
But even if time is tight, it may be necessary to reread certain sections of the book before you begin writing. A helpful trick when it comes to classic novels is to review the last page of each paragraph or major section. The authors of old were far more methodical and conventional than the scribblers of today. Most of them had a habit of summing up the major points of each chapter in their last few paragraphs of that chapter.
After you have reviewed your notes and have selected a theme, it is time to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. As with any written work, the first line is generally the most important one. It is the sentence that convinces readers they should take the time to hear what you have to say. An introductory line should be relevant, succinct, and original. The next few sentences of the introductory paragraph give the writer an opportunity to shine. He can either hook or lose his readers with these lines.
Once the introductory paragraph is on paper, you will often find that the writing process
gets easier because the words come quicker. By the time you have completed the second section, you should have a good handle on the material. Although it is often advisable to write book reports
in sections, when time is of the essence you must do it in a single session, which will invariably expedite the process.
Proofread Your Work in the Morning
Last and perhaps most importantly, it is crucial that you drop you pen or close your laptop as soon as you finish the five sections. Get some much needed rest and look over your work when you wake up. This will help ensure that the paper is ready for review.